Mars orbiter enters safe mode after disturbance

Jun 05, 2009
This artist's concept of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image: NASA/JPL

NASA says its powerful Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in safe mode after being hit by a cosmic ray or solar particle.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in safe mode and in communications with Earth after an unexpected rebooting of its computer Wednesday evening, June 3.

The spontaneous reboot resembles a Feb. 23 event on the spacecraft. Engineers concluded the most likely cause for that event was a cosmic ray or solar particle hitting electronics and causing an erroneous voltage reading.

Jim Erickson, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said, "The spacecraft is sending down high-rate engineering data, power positive, batteries fully charged, sun pointed and thermally safe. The flight team is cautiously bringing the orbiter back to normal operations. We should be resuming our exploration of Mars by next week."

The reboot occurred at approximately 6:10 p.m. PDT (9:10 p.m. EDT) on June 3. This is the sixth time since the spacecraft began its primary science phase in November 2006 that it has entered safe mode, which is its programmed precaution when it senses a condition for which it does not know a more specific response.

Provided by NASA

Explore further: Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mars Orbiter Puts Itself into Precautionary Mode

Feb 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter unexpectedly rebooted its computer Monday morning, Feb. 23, and put itself into a limited-activity mode that is an automated safety response.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter blasts off

Aug 12, 2005

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The spacecraft launched from Space Launch Complex 41 aboard NASA's first Atlas V rocket.

Pace Quickens for NASA Spacecraft Orbiting Mars

Jun 19, 2006

NASA's newest spacecraft at Mars has already cut the size and duration of each orbit by more than half, just 11 weeks into a 23-week process of shrinking its orbit. By other indicators, the lion's share of ...

Recommended for you

MAVEN studies passing comet and its effects

6 hours ago

NASA's newest orbiter at Mars, MAVEN, took precautions to avoid harm from a dust-spewing comet that flew near Mars today and is studying the flyby's effects on the Red Planet's atmosphere.

How to safely enjoy the October 23 partial solar eclipse

6 hours ago

2014 – a year rich in eclipses. The Moon dutifully slid into Earth's shadow in April and October gifting us with two total lunars. Now it's the Sun's turn. This Thursday October 23 skywatchers across much ...

How to grip an asteroid

7 hours ago

For someone like Edward Fouad, a junior at Caltech who has always been interested in robotics and mechanical engineering, it was an ideal project: help develop robotic technology that could one day fly on ...

Image: Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

9 hours ago

It was 45 years ago when astronomer Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko, one of his researchers, unwittingly began a new chapter in the history of space exploration.

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Roj
3 / 5 (2) Jun 06, 2009
That's what you get for using Windows software.
LuckyBrandon
1 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2009
what and youd rather use an open source so that some guy who just got fired can upload some code strings to put it into the ground of the nearest moon or planet....

this isnt a windows thing, this was programmed into the satellites and into our ROVs as well that if they encounter problems they don't have a programmed solution for, they go into safe mode. This would happen no matter what OS was used on them.
butters
not rated yet Jun 06, 2009
The operating system used is VxWorks which is a real-time operating system. You would never dream of using Windows on a spacecraft. Having used VxWorks myself, it is one of the best RTOS around. See http://en.wikiped..._Orbiter
LuckyBrandon
1 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2009
that was kind of my thought as well..you wouldnt stick XP on something flying millions of miles away.